In the Name of All Canadians features 6 documentaries about the struggles of Canadians on human rights. Watching the film felt like re-experiencing the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg.
L'Inspecteur showed us the world of Francophones in Manitoba where teaching French was not allowed in the province and school inspectors would come to trip up the students on their English. Using illustration helped the audience to understand the story, especially with the audio from teachers and students who suffered through these times in the 1930s and 1940s. The Thompson Act banned the teaching of French in Manitoba for 50 years until the late 1960s. This topic could have used more time for a fascinating story.
Last Resort covered an ongoing case over the first Indigenous freedom of religion challenge before the Supreme Court of Canada. The case involved a potential skiing resort. The film said the Court would decide the case in 2017. Turns out, the Court ruled the week of the film festival against the Indigenous freedom of religion challenge. What might be thought-provoking to Americans is that Canada allows cameras into its Supreme Court, something not allowed in the United States.
The Long Way Home follows the struggles of a Sudanese-born Canadian who is not allowed to come back to Canada due to false allegations of terrorism. Notwithstanding intentionally deceives the audience with speculation involving Section 33, the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Human Rights. The speculative approach was unfortunate since the short film dealt with the very real problems of G20 defendants, Japanese-Canadians, Muslims, and prisoners in solitary confinement. Lessons Injustice dealt with racism and discrimination with a father/son car ride.
The 6th documentary is broken into parts throughout the film. In Part is inspired by the Proust questionnaire with significant questions related to the Charter of Human Rights as well as existential and insignificant offerings. The lighthearted segments awkwardly contrasted the serious topics of the other documentaries. This documentary should have been preserved as one within the film.
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World spotlights the indigenous influence in the world of rock and roll. The "Rumble" in the title refers to the 1958 instrumental Rumble from Link Wray and his Ray Men.
Though Link Wray ran into controversy with his music, many well-known rock-and-roll stars, including Pete Townshend, list Link Wray as a heavy influence with the power chord.
Canadians in the documentary include Robbie Robertson, from the Mohawk tribe, The Band, and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Prominent musicians include Jimi Hendrix, Redbone, and Jesse Ed Davis.
The latter was known best as a session guitarist, including his work on the solo on Doctor My Eyes from Jackson Browne. Davis was on a few albums from Taj Mahal and played on several Beatles solo albums.
The documentary is pretty straightforward and gives us a nice education without being annoying.
Picture of Light is a Canada 150 restoration that was required to be shown for free in the festival. The film follows the crew hoping to catch the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, in 1991 and 1992.
Director Peter Mettler follows the crew on the train from Winnipeg to Churchill in Manitoba on a single track. The film is filled with repeating dialogue, poetry, and deep thoughts. "Magic doesn't like electricity" so the crew used a lot of batteries.
The documentary is a bit on the slow side but you do get a sense of Churchill, home of the polar bears, during its summer with conditions that don't match summer in most climates.
The lights are worth the time spent in the documentary but you might skip past some of the Churchill time to get to what you want to see.
The Gardener spotlights Les Quatre Vents, aka Cabot Garden, in the Charlevoix region near Quebec City. A documentary about a garden might seem rather boring, but this is no ordinary garden. This is what happens when you combine lots of money, amazing world-inspired taste, and several decades of times.
The Sebastien Chabot film feels very meditative as the garden is very elaborate. The only critique of the film is you almost wish they spent less time on the history of Frank Cabot's family and jump straight into the garden.
Birth of a Family shows us the damage done by the Sixties Scoop, where indigenous children were yanked from their homes. The film introduces us to 4 siblings who grew up in white foster homes who finally get to reunite. We meet Betty Ann, the oldest, and sisters Rosalie and Esther and brother Ben.
They meet up in Calgary and spend some quality time in Banff National Park. The focus is more on learning how they grew up than much of what is happening now. If they have families, we don't hear about them. We don't learn much about the Sixties Scoop itself, but how that impacted these 4 siblings.
There are moments when they are talking alone on camera, sharing moments that they really should be sharing with the other siblings. The idea that these people would learn these moments at the same time the audience does would be quite awkward.
The most powerful moment is when the 4 siblings learn about their culture through the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum in Banff. You get a good sense of what they have lost in that moment. This is the most impactful scene in the film and is worth seeing the film for this scene. There are lighter moments as well: you can see that they have a shared laughter.
As for the family dynamic, Betty Ann takes charge as the oldest and Ben feels comfortable having 3 sisters.
Vancouver: No Fixed Address paints a grim picture of the housing world in Vancouver. We see variations on housing from communal homes to a older man who lives in his van. You do get to see the people beyond the headlines.
The film doesn't cover much of Vancouver itself, showcasing North Vancouver, East Vancouver, and other suburbs. The filmmakers don't really cover the city south of False Creek.
If you know anything about this topic and concern, you won't learn too much from this documentary. If this concern is new, if you wonder how this might impact a city you know or like, this documentary will be helpful.
The film mentions the various penalties that Vancouver has offered (foreign buyers) or intends to offer (empty residences). But this film isn't as much as solutions as telling you how bad things are in the Vancouver area.
Integral Man is Jim Stewart, the most published mathematician in modern times, and his majestic home, Integral House. We learn that the home was built with acoustics in mind since he is also a violinist and hosts concerts in the space.
We learn a lot more about Stewart, a true renaissance individual, than the actual home. We learn about the curves, but we don't find out the impact beyond acoustics. This house is amazing and we want to know more. Given the 63-minute running time, there is time for that explanation.
photo credits: In the Name of All Canadians; Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World; me; Birth of a Family